Let’s face it, it’s a digital world. Social media has taken over our personal and professional lives. We live by advice we see on Facebook. We strive to be like people we see living the “perfect” life on Instagram. We get our news in 140 character snippets on Twitter. We apply to jobs on LinkedIn. Consumers are shopping more online now than ever before, changing the way retailers interact with them and forcing many to close down their brick and mortar doors. We are consumed by the internet and all that it offers at the stroke of a key, the click of a mouse.
But sales and marketing professionals, like my dad, still travel 50% (or more) of the year, all over the WORLD to participate in trade shows. Most of the time as an exhibitor, but sometimes, they attend simply as an attendee. Makes sense. Until you realize just how far one will go for a good trade show. My dad, the quintessential trade show exhibitor, recently flew from California to Taiwan (Taiwan!!) just to walk around at a trade show. Say what?!
In college, I learned about trade shows in Marketing 101. Or maybe 201. But, I learned about them. And even though the concept seemed somewhat old school, I got it. If done right, they can be really impactful to your business. But in this new day and age, where everything is done online, why are they still so popular?
It’s simple. The answer is: people.
Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, compares to a face to face interaction when you are trying to network and connect with people. Really connect with people.
And while my generation of professionals might scoff at the idea of a trade show, according to this article, 83% of the professionals interviewed said that the biggest advantage of exhibiting at trade shows is meeting potential new customers. And 75% of them predict that the future of trade shows is positive. Meaning, trade shows are where it’s at, people.
So, how do you successfully stand out from the crowd of exhibitors? How do you prove your investment? And how do you bring the digital world into the mix?
Partnering with an experienced trade show strategy consultant has so many benefits. Most consultants offer strategies (such as selecting the right trade shows to attend and the appropriate level to maximize your return), as well as full project management, including on site and post trade show support. Hiring a good trade show expert will most certainly complement your sales teams’ efforts and can make a huge difference in your trade show success.
And that digital world? Besides sharing on social media sites and using strategic hashtags, there’s this and this. Meaning, in the ever changing world of technology, the possibilities are pretty much endless, it seems.
If you really think about it, trade shows are the 3-D version of our everyday social media driven lives: networking, adding ‘friends’, gaining followers, getting advice and learning information about products and services…old school style.